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Pirates exercise Cutch’s option, decline two others

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have exercised their 2018 team option for Andrew McCutchen. That puts him under contract for one more year at a very reasonable cost of $14.5M. He’ll be a free agent after that.

The decision seemed like a no-brainer after Cutch bounced back from two dismal months at the start of 2017 with two of the best months of his career. He endured another, even worse slump late in the season, but that appeared to result from a minor knee injury he suffered in Toronto. Just the same, many fans didn’t feel entirely confident that the option would be exercised, which probably is a measure of the cynicism the club has engendered within the fan base over any decision connected to money.

At the same time, the team declined the following two options:

C Chris Stewart - $1.5M team option, $250K buyout
LHP Wade LeBlanc - $1.25M team option, $50K buyout

The decisions make Stewart, but not LeBlanc, a free agent. The latter lacks the necessary service time. Instead, the Pirates outrighted LeBlanc to AAA. He’s previously been outrighted, so he can elect free agency.